second Athenian domination started with the definite expulsion of the
Delians to Achaia, in the Peloponnese. The declaration of Delos as an
"international" harbour by the Romans led to an influx of foreigners
who became a significant element of the island's population. The absence
of taxes resulted to the concentration of trade activity on the island
and, subsequently, to its economic prosperity.
The close relations of Delos with Rome, though, was the main reason for
its decline. During Mithridates' wars againts the Romans, Delos suffered
severe damage in the raids of 88 B.C. and 69 B.C. Since then, the island's
prosperity gradually came to an end. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D.
only a small settlement existed on Delos and, as Christianity had gradually
replaced the ancient religion, the island finally lost its importance.
Numerous pieces of sculpture were transferred to Museums of Greece and
abroad, while marbles from the ancient buildings were used as building
material by the inhabitants of the nearby islands.
Excavations on Delos started in 1873 by the French School of Archaeology
at Athens. Between 1904 and 1914, under the direction of M. Holleaux and
thanks to the donation of Duke de Loubat, the most significant sections
of the ancient site were uncovered.
Intensive excavations were conducted in the years 1958-1975. The excavations
are still carried out by the French School of Archaeology, but the religious,
political and commercial centre of the island has already been revealed
along with many private houses. Restricted excavations were also conducted
by Greek archaeologists at the beginning of the century.
Large-scale restoration work has been undertaken by the French School
of Archaeology mainly in the sector of the private houses, but in the
recent years, the 21st Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities
has also carried out similar work. Several columns have been rebuilt and
ancient houses have been roofed in order to protect the mosaic floors
(House of the Trident, House of the Masks, House of Hermes). In 1990 Delos
was included in the World's Cultural Heritage, protected by the UNESCO.
The most important monuments of the site are:
The Agora of the Competaliasts:
|One of the main markets of the Hellenistic city is an
open square directly abutting the Sacred Harbour, paved with large
flat stones of gneiss, many of which have post-holes for tents.
On the north side lies the Portico of Philip and a small Ionic
temple dedicated to Hermes, the god of commerce, while shops and
workshops flank the market along the east and south sides. At the
centre of the square stand the foundations of two marble monuments
(one square and one round), also dedicated to Hermes. Around them,
bases of monuments erected by bankers, ships' pilots and merchants
are to be seen. The whole complex is dated to the last quarter of
the 2nd century B.C.
|The Temple of the Delians
The Temple of the Delians or Grand Temple is the latest and largest
of the three temples dedicated to Apollo. It is a "peripteral"
Doric temple with six columns on each of the narrow sides and thirteen
on each of the long ones. Its construction began in 478 B.C. but
stopped around the middle of the 5th century B.C., when the League'
s treasury was transferred to Athens. Work was resumed later on,
during the period of Delian independence, but was never actually
|The Minoan Fountain
The Minoan Fountain, referred to in the inscriptions and identified
by a relief bearing a dedication to "Minoan Nymphs", is
a public well hewn in the rock. It was covered by a square building,
open on the south side, which was flanked by a Doric portico. The
water level could be reached by the stone steps on the south side.
The fountain was constructed in the second half of the 6th century
B.C. and remained in use for a very long time, until the late Hellenistic
period, when it was finally converted into a house.
|Terrace of the Lions
lions dedicated to Apollo by the Naxians at the end of 7th century
B.C. stand in a row facing eastwards, towards the Sacred Lake. They
are reckoned originally to have been sixteen in number, but only
five lions and the remains of three more, standing on modern bases,
can be seen in position today. The headless body of another lion
now decorates the Arsenal in Venice. Bordering the west side of
the road leading from the harbour in Skardana bay to the temples,
they were the eternal guardians of the Sanctuary.
||The Establishment of the Poseidoniasts from Beirut
It was the club house of an association of Syrian shippers, merchants,
bankers, and warehousemen bound up by their desire for racial kinship
and the desire to worship the national gods but also for the protection
of their commercial interests. It consists of a central peristyle
court, around which are arranged various rooms and temples dedicated
to Poseidon, Hercules and Rome. Dated to the last quarter of the
2nd century B.C.
Rectangular platform to the
NW of the Sanctuary, containing a statue of Dionysos flanked by
two actors impersonating Paposilenoi (now in the Museum). On either
side of the platform, a pillar supports a huge phallus, the symbol
of Dionysos. The southern pillar, which is decorated with relief
scenes from the Dionysiac circle, was erected in ca. 300 B.C. by
a Delian named Karystios in order to celebrate a victorious theatrical
performance sponsored by him.
preserved marble theatre was constructed at the beginning of the
3rd century B.C. and replaced an earlier, wooden one. The upper
(epitheatron) and the lower part of the theatre, which are separated
by the diazoma, are not concentric. The first row of seats, which
is for the privileged, is followed by twenty-six stone tiers in
the lower part and seventeen more in the epitheatron, divided by
eight stairways into seven cunei, that could accommodate about 5.500
spectators. In front of the round orchestra, the remains of the
stage-building (skene) are to be seen.
|Temple of Isis
Small Doric temple within
a sanctuary shared by the familiar triad Serapis, Isis and Anubis,
located on a high terrace by the foothill of Cynthus. Built at the
beginning of the 2nd century B.C., it was repaired by the Athenians
in 135 B.C. and still contains the cult statue of the goddess. Isis,
known by a variety of cult names, gave people good health and fortune
and protected the sailors.
||The Temple of Hera
Doric temple constructed
in around 500 B.C.; under its cella were revealed the foundations
of an earlier temple, dating back to the beginning of the 7th century
B.C. In the remains of this earlier temple, a large number of Archaic
vases and other votive offerings were found (now exhibited in the
museum), many of which bear incised votive inscriptions to Hera.
The altar of the goddess was erected to the south of the temple.
|The "House of Dionysos"
The "House of Dionysos", thus named after the famous mosaic
floor depicting Dionysos riding a panther, is a good example of a
private residence, dating from the last quarter of the 2nd century
B.C. A covered passage leads from the entrance to a peristyle court,
on which open the rooms of the ground floor. At the centre of the
court there is a cistern for the collection of water, covered with
a splendid mosaic floor. A stone stairway leads to the elegant private
rooms of the upper storey.
Archaeological Museum of Delos
Delos Museum was build in 1904 by the Archaeological Society at
Athens and originally consisted of the five western rooms. It was
enlarged in 1931 and 1972 and in the same period, the exterior of
the building underwent great, but unfortunate, alterations. The
present exhibition is arranged in nine rooms. Six rooms contain
the statues and reliefs found in Delos (one of the best collections
in the world), two rooms contain pottery ranging from the prehistoric
to the late Hellenistic period, and the last one contains various
objects of everyday life, found in the private houses. However,
the exhibition is not yet complete.
includes the following collections:
- Funerary statues and grave stelae ranging from the 7th to the
1st century B.C.
- Pottery ranging from the 25th to the 1st century B.C.
- Clay figurines dating from the 2nd-1st centuries B.C.
- Jewellery and small objects dating from the 2nd-1st centuries
- Mosaics of the 2nd-1st centuries B.C.